The New Right's Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked walk off after exit polls show they won't enter the 21st Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The New Right party of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked did not make it into the Knesset according to final results published by the Central Elections Committee on Thursday at midnight.

Earlier Thursday, a technical error on the Central Elections Committee’s website prevented publicly available numbers on the vote count from reflecting the real results of the election, sparking hours of confusion and a lack of clarity on whether the soldiers’ votes changed the final results on Thursday.

Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer said final, accurate numbers would be released overnight Thursday, after press time.

The chaos began early in the morning, when the website showed that the New Right would get into the Knesset thanks to the soldiers, being just 0.01% over the 3.25% electoral threshold.

But sources in the committee leaked to the media that those numbers were wrong, and that Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s party would remain outside the Knesset, by a very narrow margin.

The New Right then demanded a recount of the “double envelopes,” which include the votes of soldiers, diplomats and others.

At about 11 a.m., the elections committee announced it had finished counting the double envelopes and that it was starting a review of the figures entered into the computers, which it said it does in every election.

Meanwhile, officials from the Shin Bet were spotted in the Knesset, igniting rumors of a possible cyberattack. There were also persistent reports of dozens of ballot boxes that had not been counted, which the committee denied.

In the evening, Melcer said he was “in close and constant contact with security branches, which said there is no information connecting the problem with a cyber event.

“We identified a technical problem in the interface between the core system of the committee and the website, which is made public,” Melcer explained. “There was no problem in the core system, which is not connected to the Internet, or in the counting of the votes. The numbers that will appear at midnight are the real numbers, which I will present to the president.”

The source of the technical problem seemed to be that the Central Elections Committee website was based on the format from the previous elections, and the number of votes – both in total and in individual ballot boxes – was unable to be updated, such that the percentages were wrong on the website. This also explained why some towns, such as Beitar Illit, had a turnout rate over 100%.

Before counting the soldiers’ votes, the New Right reached 3.14% of the vote, or 127,504 votes.


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